This Brief looks at the emergence of minilateralism: the diplomatic process of a small group of interested parties working together to complement the workings of international organisations. What are the benefits of such ad hoc mechanisms?
Global governance – understood as a combination of security providers, policies and underlying norms – is directly affected by the simultaneous evolution of threats and shifting centres of power. On the one hand, the world remains characterised by instability, conflict and human suffering, as well as by high levels of strategic uncertainty. On the other, institutions like the United Nations, the African Union or the European Union itself – as well as non-governmental organisations – have developed a wide range of tools to tackle evolving dangers.
International law and regimes, including norms on intervention (peacekeeping, the responsibility to protect) or justice (International Criminal Court), also provide a political and legal framework for global regulation efforts.
But existing mechanisms are being increasingly called into question over their effectiveness and levels of legitimacy, in particular by those not represented in decision-making. This in turn challenges the position and role of the European Union and its aspirations to be both a norm-setter and a broad security provider.
The international community continues to put pressure on Pyongyang with the aim of quickly restarting the negotiations over the DPRK's nuclear agenda. Whether or not sanctions will succeed, however, depends on how well the restrictions are implemented.
China’s global activism is reaching new heights under President Xi Jinping’s leadership. Beijing is hoping to exert itself as a new multilateral leader by venturing into previously unchartered realms such as cybersecurity. The question is, how will China pursue its new ambitions?